INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO FILE A WAGE CLAIM Unpaid wages may be recovered either through the Labor Department OR through the Justice of the Peace Courts, But not both. You must decide which recourse you wish to pursue. The Labor Department staff cannot advise you on which action to take. 1. You may file a CIVIL ACTION against an employer for THREE (3) TIMES the amount of the unpaid wages (A.R.S. 23-355). This action must be taken to the appropriate courts. To do this you need to contact the Justice Courts Administration @ (602) 506-8530 in Maricopa County or (520) 882-0044 in Pima County and they will assist you as to which courts you are to contact. It is usually the courts nearest to the business of the employer. 2. You may choose to file a WAGE CLAIM through the Labor Department for only the amount that is owed and the actual amount due is: a) Not more than $2500.00, b) the claim is filed within 1 year of accrual (A.R.S. 23-356) and c) You are not an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. You cannot file for less than what is owed and you cannot split the amount owed through our Department and the courts. You may not pursue both a CIVIL ACTION AND A WAGE CLAIM for the wages. If a civil action is filed after you have filed a wage claim, you must notify the Labor Department in writing and your claim will have to be dismissed. We do not contact the employer by telephone and we cannot take action on a claim until one is filed. Our first contact and all correspondence will be done through the mail. IF YOU WISH TO FILE THROUGH OUR DEPARTMENT THE PROCEDURES ARE AS FOLLOWS: A WAGE CLAIM MUST BE INVESTIGATED in accordance with the provisions of A.R.S. §23357. The department makes every effort to conduct a thorough and timely investigation. The steps of the investigation of a wage claim are outlined below. THE LAW REQUIRES THAT THE LABOR DEPARTMENT FOLLOW THESE STEPS IN THE INVESTIGATION OF YOUR WAGE CLAIM: 1. Your claim must contain all necessary information and be signed by you. 2. If the claim is not complete, it will be returned to you and you will have TEN (10) days to return the original claim form, otherwise it will be dismissed (we cannot accept a fax or a copy of the original form). 3. The employer will receive by mail a 1st notice with a copy of your wage claim form, and if there is no response, a 2nd notice will be mailed. The employer has TEN (10) days from the date of mailing to respond to each notice sent. 4. If the employer pays the total amount of your claim, the check is promptly sent to you by CERTIFIED MAIL to your last address on record in your file and closed. It is important that you notify us of any address change either by writing or calling this department.
5. If a check in payment of your claim is received by the Department, it will be promptly mailed to you CERTIFIED at your address on the claim form. It is your responsibility to advise the Labor Department in WRITING of any change in your address or telephone number. 6. If you receive payment of any or all of the wages you have filed for in your wage claim, please notify the Department in writing as soon as possible. 7. If the employer disputes the claim, a copy of the employer's response will be mailed to you and you will have TEN (10) days to respond in writing. Once you receive your questionnaire form, you are required to submit all documentation and remarks in WRITING. Reminder, the Department is a neutral party and cannot give out advice regarding your case. 8. Once we have received a response from both parties and the Department cannot make a determination, the Department may schedule a meeting with both parties to complete its investigation or mediate the dispute. 9. The Department may dismiss the claim if: there is no violation of A.R.S. §23-350, you filed a civil action in court, the employer cannot be located, the employer files bankruptcy, there is a dispute or counterclaim which cannot be resolved by the Department 10. If the evidence is sufficient, the Department will mail a written determination of the claim to both parties. 11. At the conclusion of the investigation, you will be advised in writing of the Department's determination. INFORMATION ABOUT THE DETERMINATION CANNOT BE GIVEN BY TELEPHONE. 12. The employer has FORTY-FIVE (45) days after a determination to pay the amount directed by the Department. 13. If the employer does not pay the amount directed, a judgment is obtained from the Courts for three times the amount and you will be notified of the remedies for collection. Either party has the right to appeal the Department's determination within THIRTY-FIVE (35) DAYS; however the appeal has to be through the SUPERIOR COURT. If the employer appeals the Department's determination, you will be responsible for answering all court summons and appear in court. The Labor Department or the Industrial Commission CANNOT REPRESENT YOU IN THE APPEAL PROCESS. Please note: You could be held responsible for all court cost and attorney fees if the Department's determination is overturned or if you do not comply with the court's request. THIS INVESTIGATION COULD TAKE AN AVERAGE OF SIX (6) MONTHS